“Love is a four-letter word, but you don’t hear it nearly as often as you hear some other four-letter words. It may be a sign of our times that everyone talks openly about sex, but we seem to be embarrassed to talk about love.” - Thomas Sowell
When I came across this quote, it got me thinking what a difference a couple of generations can make in the openness with which certain topics are broadcast.
Whereas our grandparents didn’t exactly grow up discussing sex at the dinner table, many people today not only talk about it, they may even be watching it on the kitchen television while they eat their dinner.
Now, in general, I think being willing to openly talk about all sorts of topics is a good thing. Many would even label that progress.
But, rather than deep conversations that can inspire and enlighten, today’s “talking” seems to be more about passing around a bunch of pictures and captions, abbreviations and emojis.
Talking seldom even requires speaking these days … just nimble fingers. Funny how all these tweets, texts, posts and images can keep us so mentally overloaded, yet so empty in our hearts.
Our appetites resemble a binge eater’s, leaving us bloated yet craving something no drive thru or convenience market can provide.
Most of us know the word “love” can mean different things. But, like a lot of other four-lettered words, we’ve thrown it around and watered it down so that its meaning has become casual and often simply self-serving.
“I love ice cream. I’d love to have a new car. I love your sweater. Don’t you just love her new haircut?”
Some of you may have seen New York Life’s Super Bowl commercial about love. Yep, that one’s content caught me (and my attention) by surprise.
In the ad, “Agape,” the insurance company explores the different types of love originating in the ancient Greek language: philia, storge, eros and agape.
Contrary to what we normally see served up by the entertainment industry, there’s more to love than eros, or the sexual, passionate type. Much more. The commercial’s narrator takes viewers through the four kinds of love:
“The first is ‘Philia.’ Philia is affection that grows from friendship.
“Next, there’s ‘Storge’ – the kind you have for a grandparent or a brother.
“The third is ‘Eros,’ the uncontrollable urge to say ‘I love you.’
“The fourth kind of love is different. It’s the most admirable. It’s called ‘Agape’ – love as an action. It takes courage. Sacrifice. Strength.
“The most admirable kind of love, agape, is love as an action,” says the narrator over scenes of people caring for others. The ad ends with the proposition that living a life of agape is a life well-lived.
Amid the roses, chocolates, cupid’s arrows, and four-letter words flying this week, may we take notice of the types of love we see around us. May we consider what one Psychology Today article about the types of love points out, “By preoccupying ourselves with romantic love, we risk neglecting other types of love that are more stable or readily available and that may, especially in the longer term, prove more healing and fulfillment.”
Hmmm, did you catch that? Stable love. Readily available love. Healing love. Fulfilling love. This is the kind of love we don’t often enough hear people talking about, and it’s (you guessed it) that agape, or sacrificial love.
Can you recognize it?
No, it’s not gushy. It’s not selfish. It’s not sexy. It’s not fairy-tale fluff.
On the contrary, it’s very real. But it’s also real work, commitment, action and sacrifice. This is love like Jesus showed us. This is the lasting love … the love we each desperately seek.
So, when we find ourselves weary of all the shallow, chocolate-dipped and sprinkled love on the menu … those empty calorie types that leave us feeling (hoping) that there must something more, may we discover we’re right.
May we push our chairs back from the table our culture would have us dine at, choosing not to settle.
May we seek lives filled with a nutrient-rich, deeper love … the love that truly satisfies.
And may we talk about it not just with our mouths (or fingertips) but through our lives, being willing to share the recipe and to serve it to others.
As John, who lived alongside Jesus and has been called the apostle of love, wrote about in 1 John, Chapter 4, may God live in us and may his love be made complete in us.
Gina Moore, a news-editorial journalism major, has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 25 years and has worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading and writing about motherhood, life on the farm and how God’s love and lessons surround residents.